New Year's Day at the McMichael

The show ends the first week of January, so Danica and I went with Ruth and John Robert Colombo to see how two Canadian artists stacked up against a famous Frenchman. Below, the distinguished Member of the Order of Canada poses with a sculpture outside the gallery.
The show was a big one, featuring over 130 Morrices and Lymans and a few Matisses. I am very glad I saw it, but came away with mixed feelings about the exhibit itself. For one thing, even though he was represented by only a few paintings and drawings, Matisse was clearly the much better painter.
The comparison seems unfair, but that’s the way the show was set up. I think I would have preferred 3 separate shows, to better appreciate each artist for what he was, on his own terms. Morrice and Lyman were very able artists and produced some gems of real merit. They would have looked better if Matisse weren’t sharing a room with them.
While I am griping, I may as well take a shot at the lighting of the paintings. Little spotlights picked out each piece, too theatrically, in my opinion, while visitors moved along the walls in relative darkness. Not only was it like being in a movie theatre, the spotlights left black bands of shadow across the tops of small pictures, cast by the framing mats. The effect interfered with viewing and altered compositions.
In spite of a few misgivings about the McMichael’s display techniques, I agree completely with Ruth’s feeling that we could not have spent New Year’s Day in a better way. We enjoyed a nice lunch there, too.

1 thought on “New Year's Day at the McMichael

  1. A great exhibit (except for the unfortunate shadows you mentioned). For me it was the perfect introduction to Morrice & Lyman, recognized some works and delighted to see others. Great little studies which were often more interesting than the larger, overworked final piece. Super way to spend the day…with particularly good company.

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